Remote Raid Pass Nerf: A Review of Personal, Community, and Niantic’s Thoughts

In an article that will be largely about many of our fellow players, I want to start with a personal anecdote.

I am a “older” more experienced-in-life GO player. I have three kids in middle school, a wonderfully patient wife, and pets to love on and walk. I have an hour-long commute to the full-time job that supports them all, and sometimes use my stalwart Pokémon GO Plus (the OG, still ticking after surviving multiple falls onto pavement and concrete and at least two trips through the washing machine) during that commute when traffic slows to a crawl. Most of my playing time comes outside that 10-hour window, during weekends as able or weekday evenings when I’m not shuttling my kids to soccer practice or cooking for the family (which is often, as those who follow me on Twitter know… #CookingWithJRE! 👨‍🍳) or just general child-rearing. Or, of course, when I’m taking hours of time to crank out analysis articles for PvP. (Almost at 450 now!)

I have enough spawns to casually play in my neighborhood, or in my local town about a 10-15 minute drive away, or the closest major city (which is a great one for GO… look up Frederick, Maryland sometime) another 10-15 minutes past that. There is a dwindled but still active GO community there, with a Discord server that has shed many regulars over the years, but is still active enough to typically find raids when you really want to… at least for the first couple days of each new rotation, and if it’s a weekend and/or particularly desirable raid boss. I am blessed to have opportunities to play that not all of my fellow players get to enjoy, sitting in that cozy spot between rural and urban. In GO and overall in life, I am pretty blessed.

I COULD play much more, raid much more, if I really wanted to. It would, however, require setting aside my family, setting aside the time I instead choose to devote to analyzing and writing for my fellow players, and setting aside many aspects of that happy and balanced life I’ve been blessed with. I used to have my priorities somewhat out of whack, spending many hours over the weekends raiding, skipping out of work to catch raids with local-to-my-workplace players I had discovered on a local GroupMe and then staying late to make up the time (and in the process, cutting into time at home afterward), leaving my kids at home with my patient wife to zip around Frederick and catch raid trains. But that eventually built up resentment that led to legit marital strife for a time, and I instead made a different choice… to let some things in the game go and foster relationships with my family and friends, those that played GO and otherwise.

All that to say… I may not be Niantic’s target audience for their latest change to the game we know and love. (Perhaps that is instead, according to veteran Niantic developer Ed Wu, “a Singaporean grandma who walks with her senior group for 30 to 60 minutes every morning as part of her exercise and social routine“. 🤷‍♂️) I’m not a crazy raider that goes out 5+ times a day to raid, remotely or otherwise. Lived that life, made a change, and I’m good with that. I’m happier now, honestly, with a better balance that allows for filling that time with my wife and kids, my friends, and lots and lots of writing time. That works for me. Most of my raids now are done remotely as I join friends near and far as I am able, keeping in touch that way while I am not able to be there physically as I used to. My kids aren’t just toddling around at home or the park while I play anymore. I choose them and fit in Pokémon GO where I can around them rather than the other way around, as I imagine many players do now, being in a much different place now than we were 7-8 years ago when we began our GO journeys.

But now a long-feared day of reckoning has arrived. For anyone who has not already heard, Remote Raid Passes are being nerfed beginning 6 April, in two different ways:

  • All trainers will be able to participate in a maximum of five Remote Raids per day.
  • The price of the Remote Raid Pass three-pack will increase from 300 to 525 PokéCoins, and the price of single Remote Raid Pass will increase from 100 to 195 PokéCoins.

Briefly, the reasoning from Niantic in their official announcement is thus:

These changes are designed to rebalance the game and ensure it’s enjoyed by Trainers for years to come…. we believe this change is necessary for the long-term health of the game, and we do not make it lightly. We feel this is a necessary step toward our goal of preserving and improving the unique experience of playing Pokémon GO—a game we hope you continue to enjoy long into the future.

Let’s just start there for the moment. Back before the Season Of Rising Heroes, it was heavily rumored from many sources that such a change was on the horizon, but rumor was that the price increase would be 150 PokéCoins per Remote Raid Pass, and the daily limit would be 6 or 10. This was hinted with an apparently inadvertent tweak to the game’s code that showed a then-undefined daily cap being applied to Remote Raid Passes, as shown below:

Reactions were quick and decisive by several of the bigger names in the GO Community. Here is just a sampling.

Many were relieved when the season began with no sign of this rumor coming true. But now that has become reality, and it’s actually worse than even the rumors, with the cost being significantly higher than the rumored 150 Coins, and the daily limit being even lower than the low-end prediction of six Remote Raids per day.

Again, before I get into any actual analysis, let me start off by showing just a sampling of the reactions of other names you may recognize…

Of particular note, if you recall the end of the #HearUsNiantic movement of late 2021, Niantic made a number of pledges to us, the player base. To quote Niantic directly:

“We should be communicating and engaging more with Trainers. I hope that, with your patience and understanding, we can do better here. There are many ways we can improve, but to start, we’re making the following commitments to you:

  • Starting in October, we will begin publishing a developer diary every other month to share the latest priorities, events, and features for the game.
  • We are going to set up regular conversations with community leaders to continue the dialogue we began this month.
  • We will continue our work on updating the Known Issues page and in those efforts, will prioritize bringing greater visibility into the status of existing bugs for Trainers.”

I’m not here today to discuss the first and third items on that list (though I have delved into some of that before), but instead the middle of the three, and the only one that was at least reportedly still being adhered to: regular conversations with appointed “community leaders” to continue dialog begun that month… and to put that in context again, dialog that spun off from #HearUsNiantic. In other words, dialog about addressing community needs and concerns.

But there have been hints that Niantic has, at least of late, not been heeding the advice of these designated leaders, those in their own Partner Program. And with this latest announcement, that became readily apparent: Niantic has not been listening to even their advice about this issue. See for yourself.

It is troubling to see that even those put in place to be heard… are no longer being heard. Or perhaps more appropriately, listened to. For much of the last two years, these folks were the ONLY ones that Niantic proper was even pretending to listen to. Now even that pretence is gone… the emperor’s lack of clothes has been revealed.

And so, despite those inside their circle and outside of it (refer back to the screenshots from above from the time this was all mere rumor) screaming that this was a bad, BAD idea, Niantic chose to move forward on it all the same. And even to double down by driving the prices higher and the daily cap lower than expected.

This is also in stark contrast to an interview with the then-new Pokémon GO Community Manager last year during the reduction of Community Day hours from six down to three. In the middle of the interview, the Community Manager stated:

“I think the most valid point of feedback is something that we still talk about internally is we didn’t give people advanced notice like we promised and we are hyper conscious of that now. So a lot of the things we’re talking about is any kind of change moving forward, we are going to make sure we do that kind of advanced notice to prepare players, especially because we don’t want people buying things that are going to change the next day. That’s not fun for anybody, so… we’re committing to that.”

Hmmmm. Does a week count as “advanced” notice? You be the judge.

Anyway, advance notice or not, Niantic’s hope — indeed, Niantic’s gamble — is that this will drive people back outside to raid as much as they are now, just locally instead of remotely. And indeed, that model once worked, as Ed Wu noted in that interview I mentioned earlier:

“When we debuted raids in 2017, the requirement to encounter and defeat a raid boss meant you had to gather several of your friends, family or colleagues and go out in the same place at the same time to a gym. And then once you defeated it, if you wanted to walk with that group to try again – you all had to walk 10, 15, 20 minutes to the next gym together.”

Wu then goes on to say that they have data showing that people are already increasingly leaving Remote Raids behind and WANT to go out and raid locally. And, quite unlike what my own research has shown in multiple looks at Elite Raids to this point, that Elite Raids show this data even more:

“With [the launch of] Elite Raids, we were able to see the impact and actually see many people come out again. Yes, it’s not at the level it was in 2017. But one of the things that’s really heartening to us is that when we look at the data, folks who are heavily engaged in Remote Raid passes, the vast majority of them are actually also engaging in Elite Raids and real-life experiences. In fact, the proportion of folks who raid Remote Raid exclusively as they play Pokémon Go and do not participate in some form of in-real-life activities are actually a very, very, very small portion of the total [player] population – and one we actually see decreasing quite a bit over time.

Now of course, Niantic’s internal data has driven controversial decisions before, such as the shortening of Community Day hours from six hours down to three last year:

“Actually, one of the things that prompted us to re-evaluate the Community Day format was calls from Trainers to revert it back to three hours. After seeing that feedback, we took a look at our data and saw that less than five percent of players played longer than three hours on Community Day.

So says “the data”, so it must be true, right?


Claims aside, I prefer to rely on a different set of data. Rather than turning players into statistics, I prefer to go to them directly.

Seeing some of these changes on the horizon a while back, I took it upon myself to put up a poll. (Yes yes, I know a poll is, by definition, turning people’s opinions into statistics, 🙃 but stick with me for a moment.) Very generic, with no mentions yet at that point about rising prices or daily caps, just a very generic question about how people used Remote Raid Passes. But then, perhaps even more importantly, I posed a follow-up question asking “if acquiring Remote passes became more prohibitive, would you consider using Premium passes more often?”

So yeah… the statistics tell quite a story on their own. Less than 12% of respondents raid with Premium Passes more than they do Remote or Free Passes, and heck, more than a third stick to mostly just freebies anyway.

But beyond the numbers, check out the responses I got to the question — again, very generic at that point — about whether any kind of Remote Raid Pass nerfing would do what Niantic is convinced this new limitation of Remote raiding will result in folks leaving Remotes behind and venturing out to raid heavily with Premium Passes.

And again, that’s just a sampling of the responses. “I’d just stop raiding.” “I’ll just raid less.” “I’ll just use up Premiums already in storage”, and the like. “Nope”s across the board. People note having kids that they didn’t in a pre-pandemic world, or no local community to speak of since the pandemic, or changed priorities in general (“GO is a leisure-time activity”, “this game supplements my life… I don’t live to play Pokémon”), or piles of Premiums already saved up and waiting. I don’t see anyone of the sentiment Niantic seems to be hoping for, that players are going to collectively shrug and trudge out to a bunch of local raids each day. For many, that’s just not even an option anymore. We’ve grown, we’ve changed.

And this affects some much more than others. If you live in a big city surrounded by lots of gyms, you may not feel the pain of this as much. But if you’re rural, or mobility challenged…

It would be nice to have something alongside these changes like, say, Campfire to assist in pulling in locals, no? Yet these changes are happening before Campfire has been fully rolled out to all trainers. Just like Elite Raids. Why? You got me, my friend. 🤷‍♂️

So, who DOES win? Well…

Anyway, as mentioned, things are expensive now… have you checked out the price for eggs lately? This is a time of trying to save up, to close up wallets… not open them up for more expensive Remote Raid Passes, or even Premium Passes (for reasons already hashed a few times above!).

Making it personal again for a brief moment as we wind down… I have a family to care for, and things really ARE inflated in price right now. This is NOT the time for me to be blowing cash and precious time on a game. A wonderful game that has brought more friends and connections and an entire awesome community into my life that wasn’t there before, don’t get me wrong, but still… just a game. I still have many other commitments that are more important, and I don’t intend to lose sight of that again just because Niantic wants to drive me out to touch grass. I’d rather touch grass on the soccer field with my kids. Remote Raids made balancing both feasible. Now? I know what priority I intend to choose now that my back is to the wall. As many of my fellow players stated above… I’ll just raid less. Sorry, Niantic, but your vision is flawed.

The whole world has changed since the Coronavirus pandemic… the world that existed in 2017 is forever gone. And sadly, it seems Niantic still trusts their mysterious “data” more than their own eyes.

So here we are. The era of Remote raiding, at least as we have known it, is basically at an end. I have previously analyzed one aspect of this that is likely to be drastically affected by this: grinding for (often raid-exclusive) Legendaries. And of course, with this being the first GBL Season without Classic (XL-free) formats — Master League in particular — there has never been a worse time to have raiding opportunities reduced. After all, remember this?

So that’s it… Master League will now always and forever mean Level 50, 296 XL Candy Legendaries. And as I concluded during my “Farewell To Classic” analysis:

“Raid raid raid! That’s the only reliable way to get enough candy to max Legendaries. You need roughly 70ish [to get enough XL Candy to max one out to Level 50], and that means roughly 3.5 to 4 a day, each day, for the three weeks or so that we see most of these Legendaries over a year and a half period of time. Good luck!”

There’s a LOT more detail in there, but that’s basically the gist of it: with most Legendaries being in raids for only 2-3 weeks over a 1-2 year period, that means you have to get in 4ish raids (and successful catches, of course) each day that Legendary is available in raids. Miss a day or two over those couple of weeks? Usually do most of those (10, 20, 30+ raids) on the weekends rather than weeknights? Now you’re capped at 5 of them being Remote, not to even mention the nearly 200% increase in cost. Once again: good luck!

But this long article is just the thoughts of one crazy PvP writer. Well, and Niantic’s thoughts and justification. And the reactions of a wide swath of your fellow players on social media, of course. But how about YOU, dear reader? What are your thoughts on all this? Sound off in comments, or you can always reach me on Twitter or Patreon or Reddit. I’d love to hear what you think. How will this affect your habits? How will this affect your playing time? How do YOU feel? Let us know, and until next time, do be safe out there.


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PoGO/PvP Investigative Journalist, GO Hub and Silph Arena/Road Contributor, amateur cook, author of 'Nifty Or Thrifty' and 'Under The Lights' article series and #PvPfacts!

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